First person: A former soldier fights for her kids’ health

Childhood obesity is one of the most significant health threats facing our nation’s children. Almost one third of US kids are overweight or obese. But in some cities and communities across the nation, rates are improving. Everyday heroes are turning the tide.

A San Diego mother of three, Lakeysha fought for her country for eight years. Now it’s her job to fight for her family’s health.

Lakeysha’s story

One of the things that I carried from the Navy is discipline. If you want to do it, you can do it. Every morning, we eat fruit. We just do it and stick to it. It’s a process.

I really believe that leaving a healthy legacy for my family is important.  When I’m long gone I want them to already know how to live a healthy life, and then to teach their own families how to do it.  I make sure they know the benefits of eating fruits and vegetables, and how important it is not only to do physical activity but to enjoy it. We know we won’t get there overnight.

Life lessons

I try to learn about things that they will enjoy so they’ll always stay active.

A while ago, I was trying to teach my kids how to run and enjoy it.  I’ve always loved to run. But the kids didn’t like it at first. They wanted to do other things.  So it became a give-and-take.  I tried things that they enjoyed—like skateboarding and swimming—and they kept trying running.  They’ve since developed a love of running and we enjoy doing 5K races together.

I know I have to model positive behaviors for my kids, so I run and play with them.  We have fun together. I love that we teach each other and stay active.  We live in San Diego where we can play outside and at the beach, but even if we lived in a different climate, I’d make sure the kids were as active as possible.  It’s a lesson I’m teaching that will last their whole lives.

Lakeysha’s tips

  • Introduce kids to a different vegetable every week
  • Eat fruit every morning
  • Have kids help cook
  • Shop together, and let kids pick their favorite fruits and veggies
  • Read nutrition labels with kids (Even young kids can understand some basics about sugar and fat!)
  • Keep kids in sports year-round
  • Be active as a family to make exercise fun
  • Help kids maintain a balanced view of treats

Hear more of Lakeysha’s story.

To read more about Lakeysha and other families who’ve adopted healthy habits to combat childhood obesity in their own homes, visit, and order or download your free copies of A Year of Being Well: Messages From Families on Living Healthier Lives.